Skip To Content

Stop That Scroll! Our readers get 20% OFF with code PRETTYBLOG.

GET 20% OFF
PrettyLitter
Just discovered us? Try PrettyLitter today and SAVE 20% on your first order with promo code "PrettyBlog"!
Shop Now

August 29, 2022 |0 min read

How to Get Rid Of & Prevent Cat Flea Bites

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

You’ve noticed your feline friend has been scratching quite a bit the last few days, and you’re starting to worry. An indoor cat scratching and chewing on its fur incessantly can leave you scratching your head: What could possibly be the cause? It can’t be fleas if the cat doesn’t go outdoors… right? 


Unfortunately, it can be. 


But don’t panic—while the idea of fleas on any sweet kitten (indoor or outdoor) can feel worrisome, identifying and treating cat fleas is relatively quick and easy. Ideally, it is best to catch this before the fleas make your cat sick. 


In this guide, we’re walking on four legs through everything you need to know about cat fleas: how they start, diagnosing the issue, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them in the future. 


How Do Cats Get Fleas?

If you think your cat might have fleas, you might be getting hung up on the question of how in the world it could’ve happened in the first place—especially if your cat rarely leaves his favorite spot on the couch.


How outdoor cats wind up with fleas is less mysterious: your adventurous pal likely brushed up against a tree or shrub carrying an adult flea, and the pest took the opportunity to latch onto its cozy fur. 


As for homebody felines? Indoor cats typically attract fleas in three distinct ways: 


  • From another pet – Fernando KittyBoots may not roam the outdoors, but Buster the Retriever sure does. If your home includes both man’s best friend and purr pals, there’s a chance your cat contracted fleas after your pup came home to deliver the slimy tennis ball he recovered from the backyard.

  • From your outdoor gear – Although fleas prefer fluffy fur to nestle into, they’ve also been known to burrow into a shoe or sherpa jacket. Some fleas can enter your home through your clothing and run free until they find the perfect place to make camp: your kitten’s fluffy fur. 

  • From public spaces – Your cat may have picked up fleas from the vet, a boarding facility, or anywhere else that other people and animals congregate. Try not to play the blame game—it’s no one’s fault. The most we can do is look for signs of fleas early and treat them quickly so that everyone’s animals stay healthy and happy. 

  • 7 Signs Your Cat May Have Fleas

    Before moving forward with a flea treatment regimen, it’s important to confirm that their distress is caused by fleas in the first place. So how do you know if your cat’s scratching or biting results from fleas and not some other condition? 


    You can, of course, take little Cheeto and Dorito to the vet and let the experts check. But if you’re looking to know right away, here are some signs you can keep an eye out for at home: 


    • More frequent scratching than usual
    • More frequent self-grooming than usual
    • Unusual hair patchiness or hair loss
    • Red or irritated skin beneath the fur
    • An unusual lack of energy 
    • Pale gums
    • Black specs on the cat’s fur or bedding

    Some cats allergic to flea saliva may develop flea allergy dermatitis. Symptoms of flea bite hypersensitivity and dermatitis include intense itching and wounds that look like “racing stripes”.


    Paying notice to these signs can help you determine whether your furry friend has fleas—but in some cases, cats show no signs of flea-related distress at all.


    This is why it's essential to learn how to identify what flea bites look like and know which distress behaviors to look out for.


    How to Check Your Cat for Flea Bites

    If your cat is showing several signs that they might be fending off fleas, your next step is to look for signs of flea bites beneath their fur. We don’t want you or Tater Tot suffering for longer than you need to—and you certainly don’t want a full-blown flea infestation in your home!


    So what do flea bites look like? Typically, they show the following characteristics:


    • Flea bites look similar to mosquito bites on humans
    • They’re usually small, red, raised bumps on the skin
    • They often appear in groups of twos and threes

    Your loving kitten is probably craving your soothing touch right about now, so it probably won’t be hard to snag him for a quick investigation of his fur. 


    Follow these steps to check your cat for fleas and flea bites: 


    1. Place a white disposable towel on your lap. Put on plastic gloves, and place your cat onto your lap on top of the towel. 

    1. Carefully run through your cat's fur in sections with a flea comb or fine-toothed comb. 

     Look for black specks between the comb's teeth or at the root of your cat's fur and red bumps on their skin.


    1. Shake the comb off onto a wet cloth. If you can’t see visible black spots, flea particles will turn red on the wet cloth, indicating they’re hiding in your cat’s fur. 

    How to Get Rid of Cat Fleas

    If you check your cat for fleas or flea bites and don’t find any, but your kitten is showing clear signs of fleas, they may still have them. Fleas are only a couple of millimeters long, making them hard to spot. 


    Fortunately, if you don’t want to make an appointment with the vet, there are some methods for taking matters into your own hands. Here’s how to get rid of cat fleas from the comfort of home: 


  • Wash your cat with dish soap – Veterinarians recommend using dish soap as a quality at-home solution to eliminate fleas. Why? Because the surfactants in dish soap create suds strong enough to break down adult fleas’ exoskeletons. This makes it harder for them to grip onto your cat’s skin and easier for you to remove. Learn more about tips from our experts on how to properly bathe your cat

  • Buy a flea shampoo – Flea shampoos and topical treatments are formulated to be fast-acting and can be effective options for severe flea cases. You can purchase several options through your veterinarian, who can walk you through the right dose and instructions on how to administer it properly. 

  • Try lemon juice – If you’re wondering how to naturally get rid of fleas on cats, this solution might be for you. The citric acid in lemon juice is powerful enough to kill small fleas without exposing your cat to chemicals. Start by boiling lemon juice and rinds in water, let it cool, and spray your cat with the solution in a tub or sink. 

  • Ridding Your Home of Fleas

    Once they’ve laid their eggs, adult fleas can spread throughout your home and re-invade your cat’s fur as soon as one week after their invasion. This makes it crucial to eradicate them from your home as soon as you remove them from your cat’s fur.


    Follow these tips to kick fleas out the door for good: 


    • Vacuum every day – For the first few weeks after your cat’s flea infestation, vacuum your home every day. Pay special attention to any areas with upholstery or fluffy fabric, like carpet, rugs, couches, or in small spaces like floorboard crevices that fleas could burrow into. 

  • Wash your bedding – Turn the washing machine onto the hot water cycle and wash human and animal bedding every couple of days for the first week after your cat’s run-in with fleas. Be sure to use extra detergent when washing.

  • How to Prevent Cat Flea Bites

    In matters of both feline and human health, the same principle holds true: prevention is the best medicine. And whether it was seeing those little red bumps on your precious pet or giving your home the biggest scrub-down in its history, implementing some new household habits can help ensure the itching never starts again.


    Here are three ways to prevent fleas and flea bites down the line:


  • Flea prevention medication – There are plenty of flea and tick prevention medications on the pet market today. You can find topical treatments to apply to your kitty’s fur monthly or opt for an oral dose. Talk with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate medication dosage for your cat. 

  • Flea collar – A flea collar prevents fleas from latching on in the first place and kills any that may find their way into your cat’s coat. You can buy flea collars online without a prescription for a relatively low price, which can last you and your kitten for several months. 

  • Flea comb regularly – If your pet is strutting around with a full coat of fur, you’ll want to comb your hairball with a flea comb regularly. Once a month, spend quality Netflix and Purr time with your cat and comb her hair, so it stays flea-free. 

  • Choose Proactive Cat Health with PrettyLitter

    There are some battles with nature no pet owner can quash for good—but the good news is that flea treatment and prevention is relatively fast and easy if you know what to look for.

    If you’re a fan of a proactive approach to keeping your kitten purring, PrettyLitter has you covered. We’re not just here to make cat litter smell better and weigh less. We change the way you approach your cat’s health holistically. 

    Tired of your home smelling like you have a cat?

    20% off PrettyLitter

    Use code: PRETTYBLOG


    Our litter changes color based on the pH of your cat’s urine, helping you see potential medical issues at the first sign of illness.. To see what proactive health looks like for your pet, visit PrettyLitter today. 


    Sources: 


    Fairview Animal Hospital. My Cat Doesn’t Have Fleas! She Doesn’t Go Outside! https://www.fairviewanimalhospital.com/cat-doesnt-fleas-doesnt-go-outside/#:~:text=It%20can%20happen%20from%20simply,have%20an%20active%20flea%20infestation).


    PetMD. 5 Ways Indoor Cats Can Get Fleas. https://www.petmd.com/cat/5-ways-indoor-cats-can-get-fleas


    Good Housekeeping. The Best Way to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats, According to a Veterinarian. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/pets/a27199208/how-to-get-rid-of-fleas-on-cats/


    EPA. Controlling Fleas and Ticks Around Your Home. https://www.epa.gov/pets/controlling-fleas-and-ticks-around-your-home


    The Spruce Pets. 6 Home Remedies for Fleas on Cats. https://www.thesprucepets.com/home-remedies-for-fleas-on-cats-4580388


     Fetch by WebMD. How to Spot the Signs of Fleas. https://pets.webmd.com/spot-fleas#1



    Pet Basics. What Do Flea Bites Look Like? https://www.petbasics.com/parasites/fleas/what-do-flea-bites-look-like/#:~:text=If%20your%20dog%20or%20cat,red%20ring%20around%20the%20bite


     PetMD. Can You Use Dawn Dish Soap to Kill Fleas on Pets? https://www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/can-you-use-dawn-dish-soap-kill-fleas-pets



    Pet MD. Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Cats. https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/skin/c_ct_flea_bite_hypersensitivity 




    Written by

    Sharilyn Vera

    Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!

    Follow Us

    Let's Be Friends

    Get tips, spotlights, and upcoming offers and deals to your inbox